A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘deaf dog’

The Blind puppy who just wanted to be a normal dog

Lily my special-needs puppy being chased by Athena

I spent the Easter weekend trying to understand Lily’s limitations and strengths.  While at the vet clinic on Saturday, I discovered that her vision is poor.  By Monday, however, I knew conclusively that she could detect movement.  I discovered this while “charging the marker,” which is the equivalent of “charging the clicker” where you follow a click, or whatever marker you have chosen, with a treat.  You do this in quick succession so that the dog associates the clicker (or visual marker) with the treat.  This is the first step in clicker training an animal.

Anyway, the marker I use for Lily is an outward flash of all five fingers on my right hand in front of her face, followed by a treat delivered in my left hand.  At first I noticed that Lily was focused on my left hand with the treats.  When I put my hand around my back, I saw her eyes follow my hand.  When she shifted her attention to my right hand,  I marked the behavior by giving her “the flash” and followed it immediately with a treat.  She learned very quickly to focus on my right hand.

Because of her broken toe, the veterinarian recommended that she get a lot of rest.  Yeah, right.  Encouraging an otherwise healthy five-month-old puppy to rest is like stopping the flow of water over Niagara Falls.  She so desperately wanted to play with my other dogs, so on Monday night I allowed her a very brief play session with Athena, who seemed to dote on her.

The two romped in the house, then Ms. Athena decided to take the game outside.  She ran through the back door and of course Lily followed.  What happened after that just about broke my heart.  Lily fled through the back door into the night, made a flying leap from the first of three steps that descend to my backyard, and landed face down in the dirt, butt in the air.  After a few horrifying seconds when Athena and I froze staring at Lily as she lay on the ground, she slowly got up and, holding up the paw with the previously broken toe, limped into the house to me.  The pain must have been excruciating.  She held up her paw and opened her mouth as though to scream, but no sound came out.

A Deaf Dog is First a Dog

In my research prior to fostering my first special-needs dog, I learned that a deaf dog is first a dog, second a breed (or mix), and third deaf (or blind, or crippled).  Lily, my foster Catahoula/German Shepherd mix has been in my house for 48 hours, and I’m amazed at how quickly the dog has settled in.  When I first brought her home, I took her into the garden in the area reserved for the dog toilet to relieve herself.  I took her there about two or three times before going to bed.

On the following day I put her on her leash when we woke up, and the first thing she did was to run over to the “potty” side of the yard to relieve herself!  She now has access to the entire house off-leash, but supervised, and in the 48 hours that she’s been in my house, she hasn’t once had an accident in the house.

Unfortunately for Lily, deafness is but one of her issues.   I discovered that she has really poor eyesight.  Aside from crashing into things, she does not recognize people’s features.  I had her at the vets today, and the vet techs and doctor walked passed her a zillion times, and she lunged and barked at them a zillion times.  Now she’s not an aggressive dog, because each time the individuals held out their hands to her she wagged her tail and was all wiggly with them.  However, this will be an issue for her as most people read this behavior as aggression.  I know that she only sees shadows coming towards her, and she doesn’t know what it all means.  Barking and lunging is her best defense.

Then there’s the issue of her bones, her skeleton.  In the initial hours that she was in my home, I showed her around on-leash.  She stubbed her paw on an empty metal bucket, and started holding up the paw.  I thought it was odd, especially the next day when she was very reluctant to put her weight on the paw.  Because Friday was a public holiday in Jamaica, I had to wait until Saturday before I could take her to the vet.  X-rays showed that she had broken her toe from that innocuous stub of the toe.

With Lily’s poor vision that makes her crash into stuff and trip over objects, and her weak bones, I have a huge challenge on my hands.

However, she is a real love bug who has just fitted right into my household and wormed her way into my heart.

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